Consumer Survey Finds That Women Appear to Find Government Violations a Cause For Breaking Up With Their FI More So Than Men

Men are more likely than women to say they would end a banking relationship if the bank did layoffs or closed branches

ATLANTA, May 25, 2021 – York Public Relations, the nation’s top brand awareness and crisis PR firm dedicated exclusively to mitigating crises for financial institutions and fintechs, today revealed that women are more likely than men to say a bank receiving an FDIC/government violation would cause them to leave (60% vs. 52%), according to its recent survey. The survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of York Public Relations, garnering responses from 2,053 U.S. adults age 18 and older.

While most men and women (84%) agree that certain FI crises would lead them to end a banking relationship, the types of crises that would cause them to do so vary. One example is a compliance violation, which remains the #1 crisis that would cause consumers to break up with their bank.

Meanwhile, the likeliness of a compliance violation may be rising as strict enforcement continues to trend in 2021. Federal regulators are already increasing their scrutiny of compliance, particularly around Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Bank Secrecy Act Obligations (BSA), which exceeded $10 billion worldwide in 2020. Within the first few weeks of this year, regulators have imposed millions of dollars in penalties.

For instance, in February, the FDIC assessed a $12.5 million penalty against New York-based Apple Bank for alleged AML violations. Additionally, FinCEN fined Capital One $390 million for “willfully failing to implement and maintain” an effective AML program. Some experts are forecasting that this trend will continue through the year, however, a recent report from the FDIC showed that compliance violations among community banks dropped 30% in 2020 compared to the previous year.

In addition to women feeling more strongly regards to compliance issues, the survey found that men are more likely than women to say they would end a banking relationship if the bank did layoffs or closed branches (25% vs. 17%). According to the survey, layoffs or branch closures remain the #5 reason consumers would leave their bank, with one out of five of total respondents citing it as a major concern.

Interestingly, the survey was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, when consumers were forced to bank online and avoid branches during ‘shelter in place’ orders. Banks have been permanently closing branches for years, but closures hit a record in 2020. According to a tally by S&P Global Market Intelligence, banks closed 3,324 branches last year. As financial institutions explore a more digital-focused structure, they should be mindful of how consumers may perceive these decisions.

“Whether part of an unforeseen crisis or through intentional restructuring, financial institutions must understand the impact on consumer perception,” said Mary York, CEO of York Public Relations. “Even more, financial institutions must understand its customer base to anticipate potential concerns and address them proactively. Otherwise, it could result in a customer retention crisis.”